X-Post: Martín Espada interview

Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive magazine, interviews Martín Espada.

Writing a poem, particularly a political poem, is ultimately an act of faith. You write the poem, you put it in the air, it becomes part of the environment, part of what we breath in collectively, and you hope then that it makes some difference to somebody.

A professor of mine at the University of Wisconsin, Herbert Hill, used to say, “Ideas have consequences. Ideas have consequences.” And I really believe that, especially with poetry.

– Martín Espada

Practical Poesia


martín in action
Originally uploaded by geminipoet

Even the most political poem is an act of faith. Because you have no way of quantifying its impact on the world. But the fact is we write these poems and put them into the environment, into the atmosphere and we have no idea where they’re going to land. We have no idea who’s going to breathe them in. We have no idea what affect it’s gonna have on an individual life unless that person materializes and says, “Poetry saved my life.”
-Martín Espada

Bill Moyer’s interview with Martin Espada is up and running. Mad props to Mr. Moyers for shining such a spotlight on poetry: how it develops from the master poet, to the teaching poet, to the student poet and its effect on audience.

While Espada’s work and words are the high definition of inspiration, I also want to talk about young poeta Haydil Henriquez and her desire to make poetry such a part of her life. A life that is driven by a practical family brought to this country for practical reasons, envisioning a practical life for their daughter and in the eyes of this family poetry is not a practical thing.

I’ve had this conversation with a lot of writers who come from an immigrant background and few have ever been encouraged to pursue the art of writing as a practical part of their life. Yes, they have been told that poetry is a fine hobby and that the novel they are chipping away at is a fine use of spare time but unless it equals real dollars & cents then it’s equal in value to a good night out drinkin or a quick pick up game of basketball.

I’d be very interested to read Haydil’s poem ‘In Papi’s Shoes’ because I imagine it to be her strategy to not only get her voice in the world but to also demonstrate to her family the practical use of poetry: as a means to acknowledge the sacrifice of the previous generation and let them know this generation will not squander what they have worked so hard for.

Also good to see Rich, Aracelis and the Bruckner Bar & Grill on the Moyers Journal! (For more on Acentos, check out Rich’s interview at labloga.)

Full transcript of Martín Espada on Bill Moyers Journal
Video of Martín Espada on Bill Moyers Journal
Video of Martín introducing Aracelis Girmay at Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase
Poems from Martín Espada
Poems from Aracelis Girmay

Martín Espada on PBS


The Republic of Poetry
Originally uploaded by geminipoet

Martín Espada, will be interviewed on PBS’ Bill Moyers Journal this Friday, July, 13th. In this revealing interview, Espada talks with Moyers about the inspirations and foundations of his poetry, and the significance of poetry to the world today.

More info (and props for the news) over at labloga.blogspot.com

Acentos with Martín Espada


Acentos with Martín Espada
Originally uploaded by oscarb.

Time to process everything that went down last night.

The positives easily overweighed the negatives, by a landslide.
Yes, I had a bad day at work but I left that at the office.
Yes, there was rain but it actually chilled for a minute.
Yes, there was a drunken rabble rouser but he was actually digging the poetry.
Yes, it was hella loud & packed in the Bruckner but we survived.

I think that might be it. Otherwise, an insane night of poetry that left everybody (including ye olde cynic) stunned.

The Open Mic was A game ready and loaded with folks that have been supporting us and what we do. In no particular order: Kyra Wolfe, Kamila Aisha Moon, Rachel Griffiths, Raul Maldonado, Chris Brandt, Ed Garcia, Roger Bonair-Agard, Eliel Lucero, Jessica Torres, Rich Villar, Marty McConnell, Jai Chakrabarti, Lynne Procope, Lovella Rose, Matthew Charles Siegel, Maria Nieves, Christopher White, Liz Nieves, Jorge Monterossa, Carlos Andrés Gómez , Mara Jebsen, Oscar Bermeo, Dawn Saylor, C R Avery and Sandra Maria Estevez

This lineup looks All-Star in mad mad ways. The carpet micers did not come out in force and I was kinda expectin that anyway cuz they are more apt to show up for names that have high media value versus high literary value.

I started out the evening nervous. Nothing new there. By the third open micer, I was good to go. 25 people got on the Open in 75 minutes. Not too shabby. Shows how cool our folks are and there respect for the mic.

NEW SHIT! Yeah, people brought some and the crowd ate it up. Highlight: Jai with the new ‘sestina’ shit. Werd.

The feature. Damn, y’all. Martín is a pro. Punto. He went up there and rocked out. Part history lesson, motivational speech, rallying cry and all poesia, he was ON and the crowd looked on him with the proper rock star status he deserves.

The after jam was craziness cuz I finally was able to sit and talk with Martín. It is no big secret that the man has consistently left me awestruck and flabbergasted. I have met a lot of names over the last four years and have hung tough with most but Martín was always the enigma but last night we talked and laughed and the walls came crashing down.

“You know it’s cuz of your poem that I met my girl friend, right?” That was the level that we brought it to, where I could be straight up fan boy and still be cool. Then my whole world was changed with some words that Martín dropped my way. (Hate to pull the nebulous curtain but that stuff stays with me for now and, maybe, for always)

A little trip downtown and then we were in full jackass mode. I was acting quite the fool aka par for the course. Over some good eats I get a call from Bella and then I put her on the phone with Martín which was all kinds of funny as he was dropping the “hot choe.coh.latte voice” Hysterical!

Let me say this, I am exhausted. Beat. Done. Out for the count. But ready to raise the bar just a little higher.

Who’s next?!?!